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Cernobbio, 23rd - 25th of May

After the class of the coupé certainly a class for 1950s open sports cars could not be missed. On both sides of the Atlantic these European Spiders, Roadsters and Convertibles were very popular and the theme “From St. Tropez to Portofino” summed up the spirit of the time when wealthy industrials and playboy cruised down to the restaurants and cafés of the classy summer retreats at the Cote d´Azure and Riviera.

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All the way from the US came the golden Alfa Romeo 1900 CSS Cabriolet by Ghia Aigle that was already shown at Pebble Beach last year. Less far but on its own wheels came the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster that was originally owned by one of the most famous Mercedes-Benz race drivers ever, pre-war Silver Arrow champion Rudolf Caracciola. This car came second in class in front of its Bavarian counterpart, the BMW 507 making it obvious that the hosts do not sway the judges in their choice. The 507 was long time in the shadow of the Roadster with the three-pointed star but in recent years the Albrecht von Goertz designed BMW got the recognition it deserves and being much rarer than the 300 SL prizes got well into the million, just a few weeks ago a superb example was sold by RM in Amelia Island for 2.4 Mio $.

But it was again the Italian design of Pininfarina that took the top honours in the class with one of the rare 250 GT California Spider. As almost every year features on of these elegant Spiders one could forget that both the long and short wheelbase version was just build about 50 times. This LWB was originally registered in Rome before it went to the US for more than 40 years. The maroon coloured car was awarded Best of Show at last year’s Salon Privé and took Best in Class at the Villa D´Este. Next to it was the “regular” convertible version of the 250 GT, the Series II Cabriolet. Once more expensive the comparison with the California shows that the more spartan versions today are more sought after; another example is the Lancia B24 America Spider in the class that is also more popular than the full convertible version. Just as the Mercedes the intention to build this open version of the Aurelia came from Max Hoffmann.

Report & Images ... Peter&Wolfgang Singhof

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